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10th Street California Coast Whisky
About 10th Street California Coast Whisky
Even though I’ve tried dozens of American whiskies, not many are from distilleries outside of Kentucky and Tennessee. But, the number of distilleries is increasing as the general popularity of whisky continues to grow, and I’m excited to check out some bottles from my home state of California. And luckily, my friend had a similar idea when he gifted me this bottle of 10th Street California Coast Whisky from the San Jose based distillery, 10th Street Distillery.
After completing a whisky apprenticeship in the Islay region of Scotland, engineer Virag Saksena, along with chemical engineer and old college roommate Vishal Gauri, wanted bring single malt whisky to the Bay Area. But, their biggest obstacle was the years it takes to age most single malt scotches, so they spent years developing a method to distill their ideal single malt as quickly as possible. They were happy with a whisky that was aged for a bit over a year, and uses peated malt barley imported directly from Scotland.
The California Coast Whiskey is one of 10th Street’s less peated options, and used a combination of two of their other single malts, STR (Shaved-Toasted-Recharred casks) and Distiller’s Cut. These are blended with two additional pot-stilled light whiskies sourced from Seagram’s plant in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to create a more mellow and lightly peated flavor that evokes the California coastline.
❖ Spirit: American Whisky
❖ Distillery: 10th Street Distillery
❖ ABV: 42%
❖ Moderate Price
My Tasting Notes
❖ Color: Honey
❖ Nose: Vanilla, oak, ocean
❖ Taste: oak, sea water, oak, honey, light smoke.
❖ Finish: mint, oak, honey, slightly salty
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 Honey Syrup (3:1)
2 oz Whiskey
2 Pineapple Wedges
Fresh Grated Cinnamon
❖ Combine one pineapple wedge, lemon juice and honey syrup into a cocktail shaker and muddle the pineapple until broken up.
❖ Add whiskey and ice, then shake to chill
❖ Strain into a double rocks glass filled with one large cube, garnish with remaining pineapple wedge, and dust with cinnamon
The Gold Rush is one of my favorite whiskey cocktails, so this variation excited me. The original recipe specifically calls for bourbon, but the California Coast Whisky has overlapping notes to typical bourbons (Vanilla and oak), so I still wanted to give it a try. I was also curious how the peat and slight smoke notes would mix with the lemon and pineapple.
The Sutter’s Mill is an extremely well balanced cocktail. The pineapple adds a bit of sweetness and helps give the cocktail a fresh and vibrant flavor. And, I was impressed how well it worked with the smoky notes of the whisky. I also really liked the cinnamon garnish, despite not seeing it too often in citrus cocktails. I did cheat a little bit and use pre-ground cinnamon, because I was too lazy to go back to the store after I forgot cinnamon sticks.
If you’re looking for an introduction to peated whisky, 10th Street California Coast Whisky is a decent option. The earthy and smoke notes aren’t too overwhelming, and balance well with the vanilla and oak. I also enjoy the salty seawater notes, and think 10th Street were successful at creating a flavor that reminds me of the California coastline.
I’m also impressed by the versatility of California Coast Whisky. The flavor is just complex enough to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, but focused enough to use in a variety of cocktails. I really enjoyed the Sutter’s Mill cocktail, but it also works well in a highball or an old fashioned.
But, the price might be a little too high if you are looking for just a mixing spirit. I was able to find it at my local Total Wine for $35, and the official 10th Street website has it listed as $40, and both these prices are on the higher end of my preferred mixer price. But, since I also liked the taste of it neat, I feel better about recommending California Coast. Especially if you can find it for closer to $35.
As always, drink responsibly.